Thrust vectoring engine: J-20 performs strong maneuvers at low speed

BEIJING ($1=7.16 Chinese Yuans) — China may have begun integrating a thrust vectoring engine into its Chengdu J-20 fifth-generation fighter jet. This is what the online portal Military Watch Magazine [MWM] claims. The online publication refers to “released footage” but does not link to it or cite its source.

Thrust vectoring engine: J-20 performs strong maneuvers at low speed
Photo credit: ADN

According to MWM, the J-20 demonstrated strong maneuverability during low speed, turns during a vertical climb, and nose-up glide. MWM claims this is only possible with a thrust vectored engine. This is not the first time such a claim has been speculated. In some Chinese media, there are even comments from J-20 pilots claiming the same.

A thrust vectoring engine is not new to the Chinese Air Force. One of the mass-produced J-10 fighters uses such an engine. The J-10 remains the world’s only thrust vectoring single-engine fighter. The “three-dimensional thrust vectoring” technology is believed to have been exported to Russia nearly seven years ago. This export was part of the agreement in the acquisition of the Su-35S from China.

J-20 and F-35

The J-20 and F-35 are the only fighters in the world that are serially produced and at the squadron level. At the end of the year, the two fighters even met for the first time. The comments from American officers were positive from what they saw.

The J-20 is designed to be successful on “two fronts”. Stealth technology allows the fighter to attack from a long distance without being in the range of air defense systems. Something that is embedded in the functionality of the F-35 as well. But the J-20 is considered more successful than the F-35 in the visual range.

Some experts say this is thanks to short-range PL-10 air-to-air missiles. The PL-10 is considered one of the most successful in its class in the world. These missiles can engage targets at extreme angles of view.


The new thrust vectoring engine could give the J-20 an unexpected advantage. It is about the distributed aperture of the fighter. The F-35 has a distributed fighter aperture thanks to the pilot’s helmets. In this way, F-35 pilots gain better awareness during military missions.

Thrust vectoring engine: J-20 performs strong maneuvers at low speed
Photo credit:

The vectorized engine of the Chinese fighter, which ensures strong maneuverability and a distributed aperture, increases the combat capabilities of the Chinese aircraft.

Unlike its Chinese competitor, the F-35 is considered one of the least maneuverable aircraft in the world. However, the F-35 remains one of the best aircraft optimized for operations beyond visual range with relatively advanced avionics and sensors. Same as J-20.


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